Have you started following a Paleo eating plan, but find that the amount of your grocery bill has increased significantly? The good news is that there are ways to eat a Paleo diet on a budget. Here are some budget-savvy tips for eating Paleo without going broke!
You'll never see me post one of those “our $50/week grocery budget” posts because the quality of what we eat is so important to me, but I also like watching my emergency fund account grow, so I looked for ways to decrease our grocery budget while staying Paleo. Here are some of the best tips I came up with for eating Paleo on a budget!
Budget Tips for a Paleo Eating Plan
Skip the gourmet meals: I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, but not every meals needs to be an amazing labor with 20+ ingredients. Most of our breakfast recipes are extremely simple. I break out my large skillet (cast iron is really best), slice or cube some sweet potatoes & sauté them in coconut oil, ghee, or bacon fat. Then I add about 6 cups of other veggies. We play around with whatever is in the fridge, like peppers, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots. I add some leftover or precooked protein, herbs, and a few handfuls of either spinach, kale, or swiss chard. Playing with different oils, proteins, veggies, and herbs keeps it from getting boring. Chopping things up the night before (and letting everyone have “morning fruit” while I'm cooking) really makes morning easier!
Eat seasonly: Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season. They will be cheaper. If it’s cold and snowy where you are, fresh fruit and veggies from a local producer probably aren’t available, but know what is available from other areas. Can and preserve those fruits and vegetables when they are in season in your area to carry you through the months that they are not.
Don't go all organic: Follow the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen lists for what you need to purchase organic and which things you are okay purchasing conventionally grown. Again, also look for these items from local providers at farmer’s markets or bazaars. We try to purchase as much organic as we can, but I keep a copy of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 saved to my phone so I know where I can and can't afford to cut corners while avoiding pesticides.
Use the freezer: Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as fresh and the same is mostly true of seafood. Buy meat when it is on sale and freeze it for future use. If you have space, freeze seasonal produce so that you will have it to fall back on when fresh is not available. One great way to save money doing this is to work with a farmer and participate in a CSA for fruits and vegetables or buy a ½ or quarter of a beef. There are people out there selling all kinds of meats for purchase and many will ship directly to your door.
Connect locally: Eggs are a staple at our house, but good ones are so expensive at the grocery store! We set up a deal with a local producer that sells a dozen eggs for only $2.50! They are free-range and have delicious orange yolks. I can definitely tell the difference if I pick some up from the grocery store now!
Use the crockpot or pressure cooker: Cheaper cuts of meat will be just as tasty when slow cooked in a crockpot or pressure cooker. The great thing about these appliances is that recipes can be prepped ahead and frozen, then just dumped into the crockpot in the morning (or minutes before you want to eat for the pressure cooker) and dinner cooks itself. One of the boys' favorite dinners is when I stalk Walmart (I about died of shock when I saw grass-fed ground beef there for the same price as Whole Foods!) for cheap cuts of beef and make up a bunch of roasts & stews.
Freezer Cooking: I've been a fan of freezer cooking long before I heard of Paleo eating, so I knew I needed to find a way to tweak my cooking style to Paleo without spending too much time in the kitchen. My favorite Paleo freezer cooking recipe is my Paleo Beef Roast, but I also do variations & freeze them for when I have a busy day (okay, busier than normal). I get large cheap cuts of beef, lots of root veggies, and set up some gallon sized ziplock bags on the counter. I chop veggies (always put potatoes in first so your liquid will cover them so they don't go all mushy and weird) and throw them into bags randomly. Sometimes I even remember to write down how much of each went into each bag! Then I cut my meat into a few smaller roasts and chop the rest up into stew-sized pieces. Add in some bone broth, herbs, salt & pepper. Viola! Quick & easy freezer meals that are Paleo, delicious, and help you use up those extra veggies that might have gone bad otherwise.
Eat everything: No, I don’t mean eat the things that aren’t a part of the Paleo eating plan, I mean planning your meals so that you make the best use of everything. Use bones for stock and buy what you are going to use. Throwing money away by buying things you will just throw away just doesn’t make sense when trying to save.
Join a warehouse club: Get a membership to Sam's Club or Costco. Pay attention to unit price and you'll find some amazing deals. Just don't fall for buying more than you can use before it expires! Oils, nut flours, and frozen fruit are some of my common scores at Sam's Club.
Make it yourself: Apple Cider Vinegar, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, and nut milk are all pretty easy to make at home and so much more affordable than purchasing them from the store. Curl your lip at the fermented foods? Check out these 5 reasons you need to be eating fermented foods!
Give yourself a break: Paleo is based on eating healthy: no grains, no refined sugar, no soy, no legumes, and no dairy. Anything above & beyond that (eating only organic, drinking bone broth, making your own gelatin fruit snacks, eating only grass-fed meat, etc) is just taking an extra step. If you aren't doing those things, that's okay! You are doing the best you can with the resources at your disposal!
There you have it, a few great ways to keep eating healthy while saving money. Over time, you will see that these hints will help you to reduce your food budget while you improve your health. What are some of your tips to saving money while eating Paleo? Leave me a comment below!